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Whitmer’s ‘no new taxes’ claim ignores her push for 45-cent gas tax hike

Campaign ad portrays failure to pass road funding plan as an accomplishment

Are your roads better than they were four years ago? If you’re one of the 4.5 million people in Metro Detroit, probably not.

When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is asked, this summer and fall, what became of her promise to Fix the Damn Roads, her answer will come easy: The Republicans in the Legislature didn’t let me do it.

So it is curious that in Whitmer’s first campaign commercial of 2022, four months ahead of the Nov. 8 election, the governor cites “No New Taxes” among her victories.

After taking office in January 2019, Whitmer soon proposed a phased-in of a $45-cent per gallon increase in Michigan’s gas tax, to fund road repairs. The Legislature balked, and no deal was reached. No road solution was found in the years since.

During the 2018 campaign for governor, Whitmer called it “ridiculous” when Republican contender Bill Schuette said she would push for a 20-cent hike in the gas tax. Once elected, Whitmer sought a tax hike twice as large.

Now, Whitmer has flipped that failure into a win. And due to Whitmer’s vetoes of recent legislative efforts to cut taxes, including one to suspend Michigan’s gas tax, Republicans can’t say they’ve secured a tax cut, either.

It’s good politics — so long as nobody asks about those Damn Roads.

When that question comes, Whitmer will have to decide whether her inability to pass her road-funding plan was a bug or a feature of her time in office. It cannot be both.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.